Killing While Ambien'ed

We've had Driving While Ambien'ed, Eating While Ambien'ed (more here) and now, there's Killing While Ambien'ed.

Some stats here. Lots of people take Ambien. Colin Powell once responded to a reporter, "You don't use Ambien? Everybody here uses Ambien."

Drinking and Ambien are known to cause problems. I wonder if anyone has studied whether Toking while Ambien'd also causes problems? Maybe the makers of Ambien could fund one with the $800 million (pdf, p. 85) in sales generated in 2008 from the sleeping aid. Maybe it's the alcohol and not the Ambien that's the problem.

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    I'm No Doctor, But... (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by bselznick on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 12:59:51 PM EST
    This is not medical advise.  But I have experienced and observed that if you take one to two Calcium/Magnesium capsules, 1/2 to one full Inositol, and toss back one or two mg of melatonin... YOU'RE GOING TO SLEEP.

    Unfortunately all of the above occur either natually in food or in your body and have no great commercial value.  You doctor probably writes 50 scripts a week for Ambien, but may not even know that Inositol is pretty much a B-vitamin that can make you drooling tired.

    Me, either, but I sure wouldn't ever (none / 0) (#18)
    by Inspector Gadget on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 01:29:23 PM EST
    touch Melatonin. Last time I googled it, the volume of sites telling of its dangers was incredible.

    What dangers? (none / 0) (#28)
    by Lora on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 06:42:27 PM EST
    I just googled it, and short of being informed that we don't really know if there are long-term side effects and that it can be dangerous "if incorrectly timed" (I guess that means don't take a melatonin dose and then decide to go for a drive), I couldn't really find anything.  

    Certainly nothing approaching Ambien.


    Not sure what words you (none / 0) (#30)
    by Inspector Gadget on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 07:32:53 PM EST
    searched for, but I'm finding plenty of disturbing information on melatonin.

    It was first introduced as a great jet lag supplement back in the 90s. I tried it just once. Didn't work for me. Then, the warnings came out against it. One of them being the development of cysts, which explained the huge one that had shown up almost overnight on my left elbow...good golf ball sized one.

    Messing with hormones is just not wise.


    How about you post a link? (3.00 / 1) (#31)
    by Lora on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 08:10:16 PM EST
    I still couldn't find anything.  Your cyst could possibly have been coincidental to your melatonin use.

    Ambien is the nuclear option (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by FreakyBeaky on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 05:08:11 PM EST
    It works, but you probably shouldn't take it unless you are strapped into an airplane seat or are getting close to sleep deprivation-induced psychosis.  This stuff is for when NOTHING else works.

    Not sure about that (none / 0) (#26)
    by Inspector Gadget on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 05:55:07 PM EST
    When my dad had open heart surgery the hospital handed out Ambien to all patients on his floor. My mom was called back to the hospital in the middle of the night because he was having hallucinations and they couldn't calm him (or half the patients on the floor) down and needed her help! Then, the brilliance that is sometimes found in medicine, they sent him home with Ambien despite knowing better and he fell while sleepwalking.

    I don't think it's smart to risk having someone go into hallucinations on an airplane.


    omg - when was that? (none / 0) (#34)
    by Fabian on Mon Oct 26, 2009 at 08:05:03 AM EST
    That sounds incredibly foolish.  Drugs should be reserved for actual need, not as a prophylactic.  Reminds me of the good old days when doctors used general anesthesia on women in labor - just because.  Research showed that practice was harmful, so doctors had to back to dealing with alert, demanding patients.

    Uh, don't blame the Ambien (none / 0) (#1)
    by Fabian on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 11:59:57 AM EST
    when you take various drugs including Ambien.  

    It doesn't matter that you can't remember what you did while under the influence but it's going to hamper your ability to be useful in your own defense.

    Just saw an ad this morning (none / 0) (#3)
    by Inspector Gadget on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 12:07:56 PM EST
    for Ambien. One of the known side-effects warned against is suicidal risk.

    This is a drug that has enough negative warnings to make me doubt the value of the FDA. Warm milk will put people to sleep at night without all those risks.


    The risk/benefit (none / 0) (#8)
    by Fabian on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 12:45:46 PM EST
    of Ambien is staggering to me.  Some drugs have risks involved with long term use (aspirin) or high dose use (acetaminophen) but the risk with Ambien seems to be not directly linked to either.

    I can't imagine taking a drug that involves a risk of blackouts.  

    Where were you when...?  
    I was asleep!  
    We have evidence that you were most certainly not asleep.

    What do you say then?  What do you think?  


    I think (none / 0) (#14)
    by Fabian on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 01:00:50 PM EST
    the people who take Ambien as a lifestyle choice are the competitive types who are always looking for an edge.  Can't sleep exactly when you need to?  Use this!

    People who have real sleep disorders should get a proper diagnosis and treatment.  


    Value of the FDA (none / 0) (#37)
    by BobTinKY on Mon Oct 26, 2009 at 10:02:55 AM EST
    this is another area to which Obama must take a mop.

    The proliferation of drugs advertised on TV and the Vioxx debacle have made me wonder whether the FDA has been handing out drug approvals the way Moody's & S&P handed out financial ratings.  I ask my doctor about NO drugs and seriously question him or her whenever thesy suggest a drug might be appropriate.

    When I was a kid my parents warned me about drug pushers and told me to stay away from them.  Today the only way to do that is to never turn on a TV or open a magazine.  And what they are pushing has a lot more potential to harm than the weed my parents were worried about.


    Well, it worked for O. (none / 0) (#2)
    by oculus on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 12:01:37 PM EST

    Intoxication was one of the most confusing (none / 0) (#4)
    by andgarden on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 12:12:39 PM EST
    topics for me in my intro criminal law class. It seems like it should be difficult to form the requisite mens rea to commit a crime if you are intoxicated, even if the intoxication was intentional. With respect to the offense you're charged with, how is anyone supposed to be able to distinguish, let alone prove, PKRN? But apparently no jurisdiction allows this defense.

    Stumped me. From the "acronym attic": (none / 0) (#5)
    by oculus on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 12:17:01 PM EST
    Sorry: (none / 0) (#6)
    by andgarden on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 12:19:36 PM EST
    purposely, knowingly, recklessly, or negligently.

    Is intent required (none / 0) (#10)
    by Fabian on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 12:56:49 PM EST
    in all instances or only in certain ones?

    The obvious solution would be to have the charge fit the crime so you couldn't charge first degree murder if you couldn't prove premeditation and intent, but you could prove a lesser manslaughter charge without those.

    At some point, deliberate intoxication is willful abdication of control over one's own actions, a deliberate irresponsibility.  I don't know what the law says about that.


    Well (none / 0) (#23)
    by Watermark on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 04:59:34 PM EST
    if intoxication is a willful abdication of your own functions, then the penalty should be extended to everyone who gets intoxicated.  A person who didn't do something wrong while on ambien isn't any more responsible than a person who did do something wrong, they both took the same risk.

    So someone (none / 0) (#25)
    by Fabian on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 05:22:12 PM EST
    who kills someone else while driving intoxicated is just as innocent/guilty as someone who drove intoxicated without doing so?

    That is gambling that nothing will happen while one's various mental functions are impaired.  It's one thing to risk your own well being, but entirely another to risk another's.  


    you forgot voluntary (none / 0) (#20)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 02:00:34 PM EST
    from the article:

    Andover, Mass., attorney Ki Yong O, then 36, claimed he was "sleep driving" after taking an Ambien when he slammed into 43-year-old Anthony Raucci while he was fixing his car beside Interstate 93. Raucci was killed.

    Judge Kenneth Fishman acquitted O in December 2007 of voluntary motor vehicle homicide, ruling that O's actions were not voluntary because he did not know the effects of Ambien, a North Andover news report says.

    Never heard of it (none / 0) (#7)
    by SOS on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 12:31:01 PM EST
    Ambien . . until now anyway.

    If I need to relax before sleeping I drink a cup of herb tea. Tuning out all "media stimulation" works great also so your nervous system isn't in overdrive when it's time to crash.

    Doesn't sound hip of course but it works.

    In defense of Ambien, it works for me (none / 0) (#9)
    by oculus on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 12:55:11 PM EST
    on lengthy airplane flights.  Do try to make sure I'm buckled in and the plastic utensils have been gathered.

    Is it the only thing that would work? (none / 0) (#11)
    by Inspector Gadget on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 12:58:21 PM EST
    Or, is it the solution your doctor came up with?

    Tried over the counter stuff. Then (none / 0) (#13)
    by oculus on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 01:00:33 PM EST
    borrowed one Ambien from a friend while we were in the air.  it is the only thing I've tried where I actually fall asleep on the plane.  

    How about a tea bag (none / 0) (#17)
    by Inspector Gadget on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 01:27:11 PM EST
    of camomile tea?

    I am lucky....generally sound asleep before the plane leaves the gate and don't wake up until the landing gear goes down. My trick is to stay up all night and board before 8:00 AM. :)


    Borrowed an ambien?.... (none / 0) (#35)
    by kdog on Mon Oct 26, 2009 at 09:53:08 AM EST
    Tsk tsk tsk...thats a drug law violation Oculus, you lawbreaker you:)

    Welcome to the violators club pal!


    what a dumb headline (none / 0) (#15)
    by diogenes on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 01:06:18 PM EST
    1.  "Killing while ambiened" is a defense, not a proof.  We all know what sorts of theories criminal defense lawyers will concoct when pressed.
    2.  It is not a defense to a crime to claim that you did it while under the influence of alcohol.
    3.  Of course this guy is going to claim that the allegedly prescription ambien that he of course took as prescribed (notwithstanding the warning not to take with alcoholic beveridges) made him do it rather than the alcohol.

    He took a LOT of stuff (none / 0) (#16)
    by Fabian on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 01:12:11 PM EST
    I doubt that I could predict what would happen with all those drugs sloshing around his system.  Both Ambien and Aleve warn not to take with alcohol.  A big fail on reading and following directions.

    It certainly came as a surprise to him.


    Plus, the alleged murderer (none / 0) (#19)
    by oculus on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 01:50:58 PM EST
    may be gay.  Did Ambien cocktail "cure" him of his sexual identity?  He purportedly killed the female because he dreamed she was unfaithful to him.  Or maybe this is a hate crime?  Inquiring minds want to know.

    Different murder (none / 0) (#21)
    by nycstray on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 02:21:59 PM EST
    It was Adams that had the dream and killed his GF.

    Oops. And I didn't take an Ambien (none / 0) (#22)
    by oculus on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 02:28:43 PM EST
    last night!

    Ambien is not worth the risk (none / 0) (#27)
    by Lora on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 06:34:45 PM EST
    Drinking and Ambien are known to cause problems.

    Extremely serious problems.

    I can't justify Ambien's use.  Too many people mix medicines and drink.  I agree with Fabian (#25): it's one thing to risk your own health or life; it's another thing when others are at serious risk.

    Ban Ambien.

    Wrong answer (none / 0) (#29)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 07:19:36 PM EST
    If you don't like Ambien, don't take it. No need to interfere with the millions who take it safely and like it. It's legal and safe when taken as directed.

    No, we're still guinea pigs (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by Lora on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 08:51:56 PM EST
    This is a civil question (none / 0) (#33)
    by Fabian on Mon Oct 26, 2009 at 07:58:30 AM EST
    not criminal:

    If a pharmaceutical company puts out a drug "safe and effective" if taken as directed, does that mean they are off the hook if people take it NOT as directed or if physicians are prescribing it for off label uses?

    If the pharma company isn't responsible - then who is?

    Drug instructions and warnings include not only warnings against combining with alcohol and other drugs, they often include warnings about complications when taken by people who have certain medical and psychological conditions.  Legally, it looks like the pharma companies cover their *sses quite thoroughly.  Caveat emptor?  Do you know if you have undiagnosed conditions?

    Pharmaceutical use is quite the tricky business.


    As someone who wants all drugs... (none / 0) (#36)
    by kdog on Mon Oct 26, 2009 at 09:54:45 AM EST
    legalized, with that must come full reponsibility from drug users.  When we do wrong, the dope should not and can not be used as a defense...same punishment as a stone cold sober offender works for me.

    Obviously the mental state of a defendant (none / 0) (#38)
    by BobTinKY on Mon Oct 26, 2009 at 10:06:39 AM EST
    is different when under the influence of some drug than when stone cold sober.  

    Sure... (none / 0) (#39)
    by kdog on Mon Oct 26, 2009 at 10:10:19 AM EST
    but in this case of drugs, as opposed to say mental illness, the defendant is responsible for putting themselves in that mental state.  If you make the decision to pop an Ambien, be prepared to deal with the potential consequences of that decision.

    Well, if it's "safe and effective" (none / 0) (#40)
    by Lora on Mon Oct 26, 2009 at 09:00:02 PM EST
    That's putting an awful lot on a patient.

    The drug was prescribed by your doctor.  That means your doctor wants you to take it.  The FDA has given its stamp of approval.  You take it, fully expecting that nothing will happen that might land you in jail -- and there you are, in jail.

    You are now fully responsible?  You should have bucked your doctor and refused to take a prescribed, FDA-approved medication, on the very slight off-chance you might commit a crime and have no knowledge of it?

    Impractical and unjustified, I should say.

    Better to recall the stuff until we learn more about it, IMO.